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Chapter 24
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LAST THINGS

 

The study of last things is known as Eschatology.

Man has an insatiable curiosity about the future.

This teaching will help us understand what the future holds. 

All of us face the future and the inevitable experience of death.

The fact of death.

Hebrews 9:27

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Death is certain and Solomon reflects on the physical body of man that will be buried and experience decomposition.

Ecclesiastes 3:18-20

"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again."

There are three aspects of death that we need to consider:

1. Death is inevitable.

All men will die and from birth every person experiences the systematic and constant decay of the body.

Our body ages.

Our teeth decay.

Our hair changes color and baldness sets in.

Our skin ages and wrinkles.

Body organs malfunction.

Finally the whole body collapses.

2 Corinthians 5:1-4

"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened:"

2. The uncertainty of the time of death.

We do not know when we will die but death is an appointment that all will keep.

Hebrews 9:27

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Each person faces the reality of passing through the door of death alone. We pass through it naked and leave all our possessions and loved ones behind. On the other side of the door of death is eternity.

For most people eternity is uncertain.

3. Death is necessary.

It is a necessary law of nature that everyone must experience.

In death three things happen to man:

1. The Body of man returns to dust.

2. The Soul of man appears before God in Judgment.

3. The Spirit of man returns to God.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

"And the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

The righteous and the wicked are separated after death.

They go to different destinations.

Jesus told this true story about a rich man and a beggar who died.

Luke 16:19-26

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried: And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments,

And he cried and said, Father Abraham have mercy on me, for I am tormented in this flame.

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot:"

The destiny of a Christian after death.

Here is an example of the death of a Christian:

Acts 7:59-60

"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice; Lord lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

Paul assures us that at death Christians immediately go to be with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:8

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

When the spirit of a Christian leaves their body at death, their Soul is ushered into the Presence of God.

Death is a blessed experience to Christians:

Philippians 1:21

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Christians are given a wonderful promise about the resurrection of their body.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall all be changed, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Christians are promised victory over death, immortality and incorruption:

1 Corinthians 15:53-54

"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

Martha referred to this resurrection when she spoke to Jesus about Lazarus her brother.

John 11:24

"Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Jesus is the key to a Christians victorious Resurrection.

John 11:25

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"

When resurrected, every part of our decomposed body will be reassembled and glorified in a heavenly body.

2 Corinthians 5:1

"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Philippians 3:21

"Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."

Jesus appeared to the Disciples in His glorified Body. His intangible body could pass though closed doors as if invisible, yet it could be touched and eat food.

Luke 24:36-43

"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

And he took it, and did eat before them."

How wonderful it is for Christians to face the future with this hope, security and no fear of death.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

At death Christians:

Leave their Earthly Body and it is buried.

Occupy their Heavenly Body in the glorious presence of Almighty God.

Take up residence in a Mansion that Jesus has prepared for them:

John 14:1-3

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

There are two kinds of resurrections:

1. Christians experience the resurrection unto life.

2. Non-Christians experience the resurrection unto condemnation.

John 5:28-29

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

The best resurrection is that experienced by Christians.

Hebrew 11:35

"That they might obtain a better resurrection:"

The time of the resurrections:

Paul reveals that the resurrection of the Saints will take place at the sounding of the last trumpet when Jesus Christ returns for them.

It will precede the "catching away" of the Saints at Christ's coming.

1 Corinthians 15:52

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

John reveals that the resurrection of all Non-Christians will take place at the White Throne Judgment.

Revelation 20:11-12

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened:"

The Return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said five things about His Coming:

1. He promised that after His ascension into Heaven, He would return again.

John 14:3

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

2. He said His coming would be quick and unexpected.

Matthew 24:27

"For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."

3. He said that not all will be caught up with Him when He comes.

Matthew 24:39-42

"So shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."

4. He warned that only those ready for His coming would become His Bride and enter His marriage feast.

Matthew 25:10-13

"The bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

5. Jesus gives nine signs in Matthew 24 that would indicate that His coming is near.

1. Wars.

2. Famines.

3. Viruses and diseases.

4. Earthquakes.

5. Persecution of Christians.

6. False Prophets.

7. Sin abounding everywhere.

8. World Evangelism.

9. The rise of the Anti-Christ.

The two Men clothed in white also promised that Jesus would return:

Acts 1:10

"Behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Which also said; Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

Paul describes this future event.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

2 Thessalonians 1:7

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,"

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible."

Paul warns that before Jesus comes, three things will happen:

1. The Church will experience a spiritual falling away.

2. The Anti-christ will be revealed.

3. The Last Trumpet will sound.

2 Thessalonians 2:3

"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"

1 Corinthians 15:52

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

The Church is the Bride of Christ and will be prepared and adorned for His coming.

Revelation 21:2

"Coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

Paul describes the wonderful relationship that exists between Jesus Christ and the Church.

Ephesians 5:25-27

"Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

That he might present it to himself a glorious church."

John describes this glorious future event.

Revelations 19:7- 9

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb."

John describes the magnificent procession of Jesus Christ and His Bride coming from the Heavens back to the Earth.

Revelation 19:11-16

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword.

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

The Return or Coming of Jesus Christ has two parts:

1. The catching away of the Saints, referred to as the "Rapture."

2. The triumphant return of Christ and the saints to the earth for His Millennial Reign.

Zechariah 14:3-4

"Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west."

Zechariah describes the reaction of the Jews when they see and recognize Jesus as their Messiah.

Zechariah 12:10

"And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son."

The Second Coming of Christ has five purposes:

1. Christ will come to catch away His Church.

2. He will come to save the Jews.

3. He will overthrow and punish satan, the anti-christ and the false-

    >prophet.

4. He will Judge the Nations.

5. He will establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth.

John gives a promise to those who are martyred during the tribulation for their faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

Revelation 20:4

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

At the end of the Millennial Reign of Christ the White Throne Judgment will take place.

Revelation 20:11-15

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

There are three aspects to consider about this Judgment:

1. God is the Judge.

Hebrews 12:22-23

"But ye are come ...to God the Judge of all."

2. There are four principles of Judgment:

     1. It will be according to Truth.

     2. The Works of men will be judged.

     3. It will be Impartial.

     4. It will be according to the Light men received.    

Romans 2:2

"But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things."

Romans 2:6

"Who will render to every man according to his deeds:"

Romans 2:11

"For there is no respect of persons with God."

Romans 1:20

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

Romans 2:12

"For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;"

3. There are three Judgments.

     1. The Judgment Seat of Christ where the Saints are judged.

     2. The Great White Throne Judgment.

     3. The Judgment of the Fallen Angels.

Christians will be judged and rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ and not be judged with the sinners of the world.

2 Corinthians 5:10

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

1 Corinthians 11:32

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."

Fallen angels are preserved for their own judgment.

2 Peter 2:4

"For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;"

Let us be thankful to God for revealing the details of eschatology to us.

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